Now that both surgeries are done, it’s finally time to move on to the next phase of treatment: radiation. I met with the radiation oncologist yesterday for the first time and he discussed what the plan will be, which I’ll share with you here.
First, I’ll need to get another MRI (is this the 8th? 10th? I lost count awhile back) to get specialized images of the remaining tumor, then a CT scan, and a mask will be contoured to my face and shoulders so they can keep me immobilized during the radiation. Those are all coming up in the next week or so.
After that, there’s a couple week wait period while they get everything ready, and then I begin the treatment itself. It’ll be focused beam, and since my type of tumor is relatively slow-growing they need to use a higher dose of radiation to make sure they really get it. That means it’ll be seven weeks of treatment, five days a week, for a total of 35 treatments. It’s kind of like a new part-time job, but it only takes a few minutes and I get to commute 45 minutes to an hour each way. Oh, I pay them instead of them paying me and it comes with side effects. So, like a really bad part time job!
Speaking of side effects, there are a few, but it’s hard to predict how strongly I’ll feel their effects or whether I’ll notice them at all. The most common side effect is fatigue, and it’ll ramp up as the treatment continues. I will be able (and am encouraged) to continue climbing, though—or at least, I will be able to when I get the go-ahead again from my surgeons in a couple weeks. There’s also a possibility of nausea, but that’ll either be there or not, it won’t ramp up. I may get a swollen feeling in my face or ear because the radiation is so close to the nerves that give me sensation in those areas. Finally, I may get a sore throat, for the same reason. There are also rare side effects like loss of hearing, but they’re all unlikely. And, across my lifetime, there’s a 1-3% chance of a secondary tumor growing where I was irradiated, but you’ll have to check back in about 60 years for that one.
In other chondro news, my scar is healing nicely. The sutures have dissolved (at least on the surface where I can see) and now there’s just a scar line surrounded by little red dots where the sutures once were. I’m sure those will be gone within the week, as well. That’s all the news for now, I have a follow-up appointment with the neurosurgeon in late February and should be back on the wall again shortly thereafter!